no, not to make merry with Santa's Elves, 'cause, btw, those merry making days are long gone.
it's less fun than the dentist!, but more fun than a knock from The Grim Reaper!
the taxman cometh.
but, ah, i blog this in the afterglow of an empty table, cleared of the papered detritus of another year in our life.
they reveal a lot. those typed-up tales of our financial safari through the current economic wild ravaging America.
as i sort each and every receipt, i travel back in a time capsule wallpapered with very thin anecdotes, some boldly typed, some barely visible - numbers fading from an unchanged cartridge pounding out it's last few gasps of ink. i stack them into categories, like patchwork, and when sewn into a sheeted quilt they read like a scroll from medieval times heralding the announcement of "Ye Old Sob Story." indeed a story calls from every page of this unbound book, papers now bound together, organized by theme, not poignancy, with a large plastic clip, leaning by the door in a recycled "Brookstone" bag patiently waiting for tomorrow's appointment.
it's like reading Braille. our story is all there, you just have to learn how to decipher it.
there are the numbers that made me flinch.
did we really spend $4395 on gas? cry me a river. and make it a diesel deluge. i hear you get better gas mileage that way.
the $367 on bank and foreign transaction fees.
"Hello. Welcome to Bank of America. Please remove your pants and bend over."
and "who-the-fuck-is-getting-rich-off-these? parking charges. ouch. 276 ouches to be precise.
there are the numbers that made me ache.
call it our "May-September" period when we were, ahem, "exploring our options" - separately.
as i sucked down hard on Trader Joe's Lime Fruit Floes night after night, alone in my studio apartment with Tiffany-blue walls and a RainShowerHead in unsexy Glendale, Kevin should have been kicking himself for not taking stock in Subway. i crumpled up more Subway receipts than a 13 year-old boy crumples up Kleenex. i could smell the processed meat and enriched flour stench flutter up as i rifled through the evidence of his feral fast food habit.
and then there were the fun facts.
the cost of one "Maggie May McIntyre the Basset Hound" inflated from last year's veritable steal-of-a-deal at $2 a day to $6.11 a day. More than a gallon of milk! Less than a large rotisserie chicken! Maybe we should have been placing her 16 extracted teeth under her pillow at night, and whatever the canine equivalent of The Tooth Fairy might have floated translucent above her floppy ears and cold nose magnanimously waving away her/our medical bills with one generous swoop of her sparkling wand.
oh, and speaking of medical bills.
["should i?...i really shouldn't...oh, who am i kidding...", she thought bubbles, dragging her soap box across the stage, plunking it front and center.]
the stack, make no mistake, it is a STACK, of medical bills towers over the comparatively flat terrain of hilly sheaths below. it's shadow, appropriately casts the year in dark, not black. it stands a Goliath to our David, only we are still trying to find the right slingshot, never mind a chink in The Medical System's armor. it's like throwing a pebble at The Great Wall of China and praying centuries will suddenly collapse. or flying into Death Star with Luke Skywalker, only you've already taken your best shot.
[you get the idea.]
i've always said that pain is relative. and i believed it.
until 5 years ago.
no, i will never know what it is like to walk miles every day, barefoot, under the hot African sun for a bucket of water.
but, i do know what it's like to live the story of chronic illness for 32 years, wake up in the middle of its darkest chapter, turn the next page and read that i am also an alcoholic.
so maybe there's a teeny, tiny part of me that wants to roll around on the ground, jaundiced fists pummeling the air, legs kicking an invisible foe as i bellow with cheeks plump with rage,
"BUT IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!"
["and in the category of "MEDICAL EXPENSES: H. and K.!" - today's clear winner at...!"]
give or take a few bucks.
[i will now abstain from comment over the Republican shutdown or any joyous trumpeting of Obama's policies that not only saved our house, but will reduce my health insurance premiums $300 a month except to say "recess is over you big bullies. stop fucking around, take your seats and get back to work."]
i choose to look at money 2 ways.
how much we can get with it. or how much it gives us.
money is a means, not an End.
because the only End is Death, when none of this will mean a thing.
money can't buy you love.
money can't buy you happiness.
and according to The Countess, money can't buy you class.
we will be forever in debt to Cedars-Sinai, even after the bills are gone.
after the scars are healed. and as new trauma is torn.
the memories from that time are not like the song..."like the corners of my mind"...they are front and center, cobweb-free.
but today i choose to pluck like paper petals, memories that yet blossom, and gather them into a tissued bouquet tight to my heart.
Vons. $9.99. Roses.
[Paid by: Debit Card/Kevin McIntyre]